Pleasant drive via SH1 to Christchurch, still some low speed and one way sections requiring waits due to landslips. A lot of work still remains to restore the highway in the difficult mountain areas.
Checked in in at 136 on Bealey, good value motel with an easy stroll to the city centre.
Purchased a hop on-hop off tram ticket, riding the beautifully restored historic tramcars around a figure-eight loop with convenient stops. The drivers are also guides, each has a unique personal style of describing the city and its attractions from the open cab.
The Botanical gardens are stunning in Spring, and would be at any time of year in their setting within a loop of the pretty Avon River. It's a pleasure to stroll around the gardens at the edge of the Avon, watching punts and canoeists go by.
There are many well designed trendy new areas comprised of new highly earthquake reinforced buildings and structures. Some have pilings 19 metres deep. The overall vibe is of a people friendly forward looking city centre. Restoration work on the historic arts centre is about half complete with several venues now open. There are some city buildings still waiting for demolition, however, and gravelly car parks where others once stood. Huge funds are still needed for restoration of the Christchurch Cathedral and old Council Chambers.
Regardless, the city centre is a very nice area that is full of life, with interesting laneways that connect shopping malls and public spaces, also a casino, restaurants, trendy bars, cafes. The ultra modern glass & steel Christchurch Art Gallery escaped with little damage during the 2011 earthquake as it was designed to deal with seismic events. It is well worth visiting as not only the exhibitions, but every aspect of the building has an artistic flair. It also has the popular Universo Brasserie & Bar, a trendy place to hang out.